Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Amsterdam Marathon: My first marathon an experience not to forget!!

Where do I start! The day after the Marathon, a friend emailed me as I sat in front of my computer with my legs throbbing and asked me, "So, how do you feel"? I immediately replied, "My legs hurt, my pelvic joints feel like they are grinding together, and my knee is not stable"

He energetically fired back, "No, How do you feel"?

He was right! The pain would just be temporary, but as I sat there and absorbed his question, for the first time, I consciously acknowledged an overwhelming sense of accomplishment, relief and calm previously overlooked by the shear magnitude of what I had just experienced. I then responded to him, "Sunday was a big day, the culmination of a hard work and dedication, commitment and focus. I'm not sure how to explain it, figuratively; I've climbed the mountain, stood at the top, appreciated the views, and returned to the bottom. Now, I stand at the base, looking up, respecting what I have just done, without that lingering sense that tomorrow represents another training day, hard work and continued focus. I'm at ease! It's also a reminder that when I put my mind to something, I can accomplish amazing things and experience the most special moments life has to offer"!

After a week of sleepless night at 6 :30 am on Sunday I looked down at my running watch fastened securely to my wrist and immediately realized, today was the day! There would be no more counting down days, there would be no more training runs, today was October 16th, 2011, Marathon Sunday! Today I will run 42,1 km in Amsterdam.
My hubby dropped me at 8 am at the Olympic stadium, the drive going there felt long. I was getting nervous ever minute that we were getting closer. Once I get there I text @RubenRent to see if he was already there. We were suppose to meet in the sports shop at the stadium to have some coffee offered by @JoanHLWAdam the owner of the shop.

I see Ruben both nervous we go get some coffee while impressed by everything around us. The stadium,the finish line,the entrance to the stadium….At the sports shop we got to meet with other friends from twitter."Jaco", "Martin", "Ruud"...  Time went so fast 40 min before the start I go with Ruben on a warm up Run… to realize that it was freezing outside. I think it was around  5 degrees!!

We get back and we head to the start… this is it!! less than 15 min to go… no more going back, 42,1 km are in front of me and I was ready and excited to run after one week of tapering and missing the feeling of a good run!!! I am so happy that Ruben was experiencing the same feeling I had since it is both our first marathon. At the start it was freezing cold we were speechless waiting for the startgun.
First km went very easy I didn’t have the intention to run with Ruben but somehow we had the same pace and it felt great to be running with a first time marathoner.
I wanted to already run fast from km1 but since I don’t know how would I feel at 35 km that everyone warned me about, I had to be careful.

Km after km together with Ruben chatting along the way cruising at pace 4’45 . It felt easy after the 10 km.  At 11 km we had our supporters @RunninRonald together with @runSylrun and others. It was great to see them and of course picture time. Second 10 km we were at a faster pace already, Just before the 30k I started to have some stomach cramps a feeling that I don’t like at all but I kept ignoring it and focus at everything around me and enjoy the scenery of every km I run.

30 km the km that I will never forget… thats where Ronald, sylvia...were waiting to cheer us up.Few km before that point I told Ruben I am looking forward to see our supporters and here I already saw the big flag JVC board and I knew we arrived … Out of nowhere I only see myself  tripping with Ruben and both of us falling hard on the ground!!! PlAK!! My head also!!! Without even thinking stood up and kept running just like a little machine.,,, Ruben was also fine and we kept going…dizzy and bleeding from my knee kept running to realize that we are running even faster than before. This fall made us stronger and while worrying about the headache and the bleeding we were close to the famous 35K.
35km I asked Ruben how he was feeling, he said good beside some pain but who didn’t have pain at that point? At 36k I started to visualize the finish line, I felt strong and all I wanted now to finish despite all the pain my body was undergoing. The last few km were the hardest but the BEST FEELING EVER!!! Legs were heavy I was scared that we were slowing pace but Ruben was there to reassure me that we are doing just fine.

The Marathon was incredible for all the reasons you think it would be. Amsterdam is a perfect host for such an event. Every single neighborhood we ran through offered its own unique personality.. Marathon spectators seemed torn between handing out high fives to runners and dancing to the bands. Kids held their hands out hoping you would run by and acknowledge them with a high five! Every 10 steps somebody would yell your name out!

2 km to go …from there the crowds gradually regained size as we entered the park. I kept focusing on my legs because I felt there were giving up on me, they don’t want to run anymore, my muscles were so tight and i just wanted to get done!!
We get to the stadium for the last 200 m I began to feel light headed, it was hard for me to breathe and I thought I might end up like some of the finishers who were fainting left and right. Ruben's family and my mine especially my beautiful 11 months boy was there cheering for us, I didn’t see anyone I could only see the finish line. Ruben holds my hand and we crossed the finish line together in  3:11:05 that is 19’ faster than my goal time and 9' faster than Ruben’s goal time.
At that moment, everything stopped, the pain, the noise, and my thoughts. I clutched the medal in my hand, draped it around my neck, and felt at that moment my journey had come full circle.

A final thank you to my family, for friends and twitter friends who supported me during my training. Also a special thank you to Sonia Hanna and Roger Bejjani from the Lebanese RRA who comforted me and advised me days before the race! Thank you to everybody who came out on Marathon Sunday! Thank you to everybody who offered congratulatory wishes following the race!
This will forever be my first Marathon experience, and because of that, a special one. However, it will definitely not be the last. I plan on incorporating Marathons into my life going forward.

Video of the finish line... A moment not to be forgotten

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

AntoniusLoop 10km

 Friday noon while wrapping my work at the office just because my parents were coming that evening and just because i am about to take off for 3 weeks. I get a message from @RunningRonald asking me if I would like to join him to run on sunday a 10k race in Nieuwegein, the Antonius loop.

As usual i got all excited but i got disappointed to see that i couldnt sign up anymore. I informed @RunningRonald who told me to wait a little he will ask his sister if she can do anything since his sister works at the Antonius Hospial. The time that i had to wait was long but here i get another message to tell me i am in. All excited but i remembered that on satuday it is the birthday of my husband and running a PR after a party might be challenging.

On sunday i woke up early eventhough i slept late. Still laying in bed i thought to myself: " i feel good!!" I stood up to take my first steps and here i felt a pain in my head. Is that a hangover of the mix of wine and champagne from the night before?
Ronald picked me up and we head to the finish of the race where we picked our startnumber, t shirt and a bag of nice goodies. The weather was getting warmer, we went on a warm up run and here the feeling in my head was even getting worst! Ronald reassured me that there is no competition and a relaxed run would put me in the first place. To be honest thats all i be first especially that my family was there...

We took the bus to the start of the race. Ronald and I were getting nervous!! why was i nervous if no competition.... i guess because am i really able to accept to jog a 10k race?? Am i going to accept to run nothing but better than last time i run a 10k? the answer is NO!! Thats not me! I want every race faster than last one no matter what are the excuses.
Why Ronlad was nervous? i think because he had the feeling that the the guys sitting next to us were fast and that he had to work hard. Hihi no i am not sure i think it is just normal to be nervous! I asked those guys what was their goal time and that young boy said 38 min i looked at him in shock because he was wearing a basketball socks and shorts.Never judge people from their appearance! I was quiet impressed and still couldn't believe he could even run a sub40!!
we started planning a tactic so he can beat him knowing that Ronald can run a 37'... The mean runners tactic was to follow his pace and win the race in the last kms.

At the start of the race i meet with a lady who is planning to run a 41'. Oh nooo! I thought this was going to be a piece of cake!! I guess not! The tactic of Ronald implies to me too ...i will follow her and overtake her by the end if i am able to with the little hours of sleep.
Race started at 12:00 just before reaching the 1km line we had to stop for the train for 25 sec and started again side by side i run the 10 km with Ruda

I was focused the whole way eventhough lots of people were along the way from the wandelaars race cheering for us. The last km before the finish I took initiative and increased my speed.It payed off i was able to finish first. I finished with an official time f 40'59 but the unofficial time with train stop is 40'34. Seeing my parents and family waiting for me it is always " the happiest moment"
Ronald over enthousiastic joined me at the fnish an it was super nice to know that we both finished first. A nice buffet was arranged afterward.

Overall it was a gr8 experience!! The race itself was very good organized and i would definetly do it again!!